The mainstream holiday season may be over, but both retailers and CPG brands could be missing out on valuable opportunities to engage shoppers and drive loyalty with new “Hallmark Holidays.” If you logged onto Facebook in recent weeks, you may have seen holidays being celebrated that you never even knew existed, such as Friends Day on Feb. 4 – a day to celebrate a friend or the anniversary of Facebook’s founding, depending on how sentimental you are towards the social media giant. Last week, friends, co-workers and colleagues found every reason to purchase bottles or glasses of wine to celebrate National Wine Day.
Building a shopping occasion around what is essentially a made up day does represent a significant opportunity to bring shoppers into the store. And while it may be tempting to get carried away, the following points will help to get you thinking about how to best take advantage of these opportunities in the most strategic way.
Make it worthwhile for shoppers
Holidays that are the product of marketing are nothing new. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Valentine’s Day are just a handful that are commonly associated as “Hallmark Holidays” created by the famous greeting card company. While it’s easy for brands to hop on the bandwagon and post a tweet or Instagram, making the day mean something to shoppers is much harder – in the end, more valuable.
For instance, National Wine Day would have been a perfect opportunity for Barefoot Wine to run a one-day special in-store promotion. Not only would this bring value for the retailer in the form of larger baskets, which could be even greater if other CPG partners were to get involved, but it would also help drive loyalty for the retailer. Whether emotional (a reason to get together with friends) or monetary (discount off of their purchase), if the benefit for shoppers is clear, then they'll be more likely to overlook the blatant consumerism.
Be strategically selective or run the risk of over-saturation
You don’t have to look hard for new holidays to latch onto – a quick Google search will yield an occasion most days of the year. However, if every day becomes a holiday for your brand, then you run the risk of no days standing out as special. The key to evaluating and deciding on which social holidays to latch onto is to first recognize your brand’s voice and then align opportunities to that voice. It would not make much sense for a brand like Kleenex to align with National Pirate Day.
But Facebook’s Friend Day would be the perfect opportunity to promote the brand's shareable tissue packs. What better way to tell a friend you care than by sharing relief for their runny nose? There’s a fine line between being obscure and random vs. on-brand, but expected. The sweet spot lies somewhere in the middle and finding that middle ground will result in an occasion that is relevant, but also surprising enough to get the attention of shoppers.
Powerful partnerships are key
Instead of treating social media as an afterthought or just another channel to blast out a message, it’s better to treat the platforms as being central to your activation idea. After all, it’s social platforms like Facebook that have been responsible for the proliferation of many of these new "holidays" gaining recognition. Leaning into these platforms and treating them as partners instead of a simple branded page could result in powerful engagement. At the core of Facebook’s Friend Day was the ability to create a montage of all the best moments that you have shared with your closest friends.
Brands should tap into that existing behavior and, at a minimum, be delivering digital coupons. And by creating a digital experience that is exciting, shareable, and branded will take your brand even one step further. While by definition these partnerships would take place outside of a physical store, the movement that they would help create could carry over to in-store foot traffic followed by sales if the entire path to purchase is carefully considered and connected.
The best part about these new "Hallmark Holidays" is that they are very much a product of the social age in which they were conceived. This means, for better or worse, they are fleeting. They don’t require the same marathon of marketing that traditional holidays do or the sensitivity that religious-turned-consumerist holidays do. Activations around these days can be low risk, high reward, but that doesn’t mean it is always easy. Take your time, consider your options and keep the shopper in the center of the plan. Who knows, you may just have found your next big, special day.